Alexandria Virginia
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Alexandria City, Virginia

Learn everything there is to know about living in Alexandria, Virginia

Fun & Leisure

Top 5 most popular things to do in Alexandria

Visitors and residents of Alexandria have recommended the following experiences and attractions in the area:

Old Town Alexandria

  • Originally founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is the historic heart of the city. The district is gathered around King Street, which is often counted among the “Great Streets” of the nation. This downtown area also offers excellent walkability and over 200 independent restaurants and shops. Old Town is connected to the larger D.C. Metropolitan area by the King St. – Old Town Metro station, which is serviced by the Blue and Yellow lines.

Torpedo Factory Art Center

  • The Torpedo Factory Art Center, true to its name, is housed in an old munitions plant that produced torpedoes during the first half of the twentieth century. The factory’s original production shut down in 1946, following the end of the Second World War. The Art League of Alexandria took residence in the factory in 1984, and turned it into a site for their studios. Today, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is the site of the nation’s largest collection of working-artist studios. There are more than 165 artists who work, exhibit, and sell their art across the large, three floor space — all open to visitors!

Old Town Waterfront

  • Old Town Alexandria is located along the banks of the Potomac River, giving rise to the Old Town Waterfront. This beautiful sector of Alexandria is perfect for boat cruisespaddleboarding, or simply picnicking in the waterfront parks. Visitors and residents can also easily access the sights and attractions of Washington, D.C. from the waterfront via a water taxi service.

Huntley Meadows Park

  • Huntley Meadows Park is a gorgeous wild park in Fairfax County, just to the south of Alexandria. The land was originally owned by George Mason, who was an important political thinker and was instrumental in the writing of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Today, visitors to Huntley Meadows can tour the historic home that was built by his descendants. Huntley Meadows Park is also home to a massive wetland, which was created by the area’s beaver population. The most popular activity in the Park is bird and wildlife watching from the various observation towers and trails.

George Washington Masonic National Memorial 

  • This memorial was created by the Freemason Grand Lodge of Virginia, to remember and honor the masonic life of George Washington. The memorial was officially sanctioned in 1910, though construction did not begin for another decade. The lodge was officially dedicated in 1932, 200 years after Washington was born. Today, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial is a repository for artifacts and information about George Washington and the history of American Freemasons.

Geography and Finance

Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, lying in close proximity to both Arlington County and Fairfax County. Located along the western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately 7 miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.,  making it an important part of the D.C. metropolitan area. The Potomac river also separates Alexandria from two counties in Maryland; Prince George’s County lies to the east, and Charles County lies to the southeast.

Alexandria has shrunk in size over the past century. Beginning in the 1930’s the western portions of Alexandria were annexed by Arlington County and Fairfax County. Due to this annexation, there are a number of neighborhoods with Alexandria mailing addresses that technically fall under the jurisdiction of Fairfax County

As of the most recent census estimate, Alexandria has a population of 160,530. The population of Alexandria is growing, having risen by 14.70% between April, 2010 and July, 2018. There is an active real estate market in Alexandria — in the last 12 months, there have been 4,081 homes listed or sold in Alexandria.

The median family income in Alexandria is $93,370, as recorded by the U.S. Census between 2013 and 2017. The median home value, as recorded in those same years, is $537,900. The median listing price in Alexandria between 2013 and 2017 was $585,000, while the median sale price was $467,800.

Popular Alexandria Neighborhoods

Eisenhower East

Eisenhower East is a neighborhood near the Potomac River and Cameron Run, a tributary of the river. The neighborhood is also bordered to the South by the Capital Beltway. This area is home to the US Patent and Trademark Office, and lies next to the more industrial neighborhood of Eisenhower West. Most of the residents of Eisenhower East rent their homes, and most of the homes for sale are condominiums. This neighborhood is serviced by the Blue and Yellow lines via the Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn Street Stations of the D.C. Metro

Potomac Yard

Located on the line between southeastern Arlington County and northeastern Alexandria, Potomac Yard is a waterfront neighborhood that grew from one of the busiest rail yards on the east coast. Potomac Yard is part of the newly-formed “National Landing,”  which was created to be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters location. Most of the residents of Potomac Yard own their homes, rather than renting, and there are a wide variety of housing styles available. This neighborhood is located along the Blue and Yellow lines of the D.C. Metro, and will be served by the upcoming Potomac Yard Metro stop.

Old Town

This waterfront neighborhood is primarily known as a hub of commercial and cultural activity in Alexandria, but it is also the site of many beautiful historic townhomes. There are limited options for rental properties — most people in Old Town own their homes.

Del Ray

Del Ray, a neighborhood northwest of Old Town, is famous among residents for its many shops and restaurants, as well as a generally artsy atmosphere. This neighborhood is sometimes considered to be part of the “Arlandia” region, due to its proximity to Arlington County. Del Ray has many varied styles of real estate properties available, both for rental and for purchase.

Seminary Hill

Seminary Hill is located in the West End of Alexandria, and is notable for being more suburban in feel than many other Alexandria neighborhoods. Seminary Hill, in particular, has a relatively high amount of single-family homes, as opposed to condominiums and townhouses. Despite the availability of single-family homes, many residents of Seminary Hill rent their house, rather than buying. The area is named for its proximity to Virginia Theological Seminary, the largest Episcipol seminary in the United States.

Food & Drinks in Alexandria

Magnolia’s on King

  • Magnolia’s on King is the home of classic southern food in Alexandria. The menu is prepared with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients, to produce meals that offer innovative twists on traditional southern flavors. Magnolia’s on King also offers access to the Palm Lounge, a second-floor lounge that overlooks King Street. Guests can watch their expertly-crafted drinks be made by the mixologists or relax in the lounge furniture to get a view of the action on King Street.

Murphy’s Irish Pub

  • Murphy’s Irish Pub is perfect for anyone looking for traditional, hearty pub fare and warm atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy nightly entertainment, including live performances of traditional Irish Music. You can also enjoy yourself with Trivia Nights, broadcasted sporting events on the TVs, and plenty of special events happening around the year!

Brabo Brasserie

  • Located in Old Town Alexandria, Brabo Brasserie is a hotspot for French cuisine in Northern Virginia. The restaurant also has a star-studded pedigree, with a Michelin star-winning Executive Chef. In addition to the expertly-crafted food, Brabo is home to full bar of excellent cocktails. Next door, guests can find the Brabo Tasting Room, which offers a more casual experience with shareable food and quiet atmosphere.

Captain Gregory’s

  • Captain Gregory’s is the perfect place to imbibe a handcrafted cocktail alongside a sugary treat, all with a unique maritime atmosphere. Captain Gregory’s is located through a secret door in the Sugar Shack, and the speakeasy serves a wide variety of donut-inspired foods in addition to a host of finely-mixed alcoholic creations.

Aslin Beer Company

  • Aslin Beer Company’s new Alexandria taproom is one of the only places in the D.C. area that pours the brewery’s exclusive and unique brews. The taproom is situated in a neon-lit minimalist setting, and an in-house food truck offers visitors a diverse menu of delicious fare.

Highlighted Attraction: King Street

King Street is a major road in Alexandria, stretching from the Potomac Riverfront into the city center. The thoroughfare passes City Hall, as well as other government buildings, and is a popular stop for tourists to the D.C. Metropolitan area. Historically, King Street was used for easy access to the seaports along the waterfront, and was vital for Alexandria’s ability to trade. Now, it is largely seen as a center of commerce and tourism, due in part to the strict protection of historic buildings.

King Street is well-known for an abundance of outdoor commercial space, including a variety of dining options. Visitors and residents can shop and dine while enjoying the beautiful summer days that grace Northern Virginia. In particular, King Street is home to the Market Square, one of the oldest farmers markets in the United States.

History of Alexandria Virginia

The first written records of the area that would become Alexandria come from 1669, when Robert Howsing bought a patent to bring 120 people into the Colony of Virginia. This tract of land eventually was the site of a public warehouse that was used for inspecting tobacco. Because of tobacco’s massive importance to the growth of the colony’s economy, this warehouse grew swiftly in importance. In 1748, a representative of the colonial assembly called for the creation of a town around this warehouse. This representative, Lawrence Washington, was the son-in-law of the powerful William Fairfax and older brother of George Washington. The land for this town was donated by Captains Phillip and John Alexander — in return, the new city was named Alexandria in their honor, though it was not officially incorporated until 1779.

Because it was home to many important Revolutionary figures — including George Washington — Alexandria was the site of many important delegations in the years surrounding the American Revolutionary War. Most notably, Washington selected the city to become the District of Columbia in 1791. Old Town Alexandria remained part of the District until 1846, when it was returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia alongside all of Arlington County.

When the Commonwealth seceded from the union in 1861, Alexandria became an important strategic location for both the Union and Confederate militaries. Due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., Alexandria was almost immediately occupied by Union troops and remained under military occupation until the war ended in 1865.

Like Arlington, much of Alexandria’s economy has been driven by its proximity to the District of Columbia. Therefore, the city’s recent growth has not been as visible and apparent as some of the more suburban areas of Northern Virginia. An exception came in 2018, when Amazon announced that their new headquarters would be built in “National Landing,” a new neighborhood stretching between Arlington and Alexandria.

Education

Alexandria contains 27 primary and secondary schools, located in various neighborhoods. One popular, highly-rated school is Charles Barrett Elementary School. Charles Barrett Elementary School was assigned a rating of 6 by GreatSchools, a non-profit which specializes in providing comparative grades of primary and secondary schools. This score was assigned based on a comprehensive assessment of the school’s average test scores, as well as metrics which grade academic improvement among students. At the most recent count, 477 students attended Charles Barrett Elementary School.

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